I rose early this morning as i had set my alarm for 6:09 AM.
I then verified that the daylight savings time no longer applied, and that the 6:58 sunrise
meant i had another hour to go.
I decided to bring my 4 inch solar filter, my DSLR and my pocket camera.
I also packed a tripod and my finderscope (a 3.5 inch refractor) on the off chance they would be handy.
At Burlington Waterfront Park, a place where the HAA has held public astronomy events in the past,
I knew that there would be a clear view of sunrise over the water.
The cloud bank on the horizon was another matter. It appeared that there was rain in the Grimsby area,
and the clouds extended out over the water to the east, obscuring the point of sunrise.
I did, however, get to watch a nice sunrise.
The eclipse was predicted to end at 7:08 AM.
Using the solar filter, i could see a chunk missing from the lower right portion of the Sun,
but due to the nearby clouds there was no way to guarantee that the interesting part of the Sun was not
simply being blocked by the cloud bank right below it, as it peeked through the clouds.
So I might claim to have seen the eclipse, but i might simply have seen the Sun.
I shared the view through my solar filter with 2 people who had come to take a look.
By holding up the (highly reflective) filter in front of my face, and angling it so that the image of the Sun
matched the dark part of the pupil of my eye, I had a clear sharp view of the Sun, albeit small.
I hope other members had more favourable cloud arrangements.
Last night several HAA members came out to join Jim when he opened the park for observing. Five members and five scopes were set up on the hill and enjoyed views of double stars, clusters, galaxies and nebulae. Everybody looked through everybody else's scopes and encouraged each other. The club's loaner eyepiece was put to good use, and several members enjoyed the very wide fields that the University Optics 55mm eyepiece offered.
I was lucky enough (and yes, some if it was luck) to get a very good polar alignment and a very good focus on my camera and ended up with some of my best astrophotos to date. Here is one sample from last night, a view of M13, the globular cluster in Hercules, taken through my 90mm refractor.
Next time you get an email from a keyholder inviting you out to the park, why not come on out and join us for another great night.
M13, the great globular cluster in Hercules, through a small scope
Just a quick note reporting on my observations tonight.
I arrived home from my week-long road trip too late to attend the picnic, but made it to the Perseids night at BCA, arriving at about 10 PM.
I had studied the clear sky chart and was convinced that if the sky was not already clear at BCA, it 'soon' would clear.
People were already leaving after enjoying an evening of interactive meteorite exhibits and other stuff. I had a chance to buy a Klondike before the snack bar shut down for the evening.
I looked up and saw a complete gray sky, but "I paid my 4 bits to see a high diving act, and I'ma going to see a high diving act", so I said to the clouds, "start climbing", and then waited.
(I wonder if some young people might not recognize that quotation.)
I think i was last to leave the parking lot, but i headed to the alternate site, and along with 4 others, waited for the sky to clear.
The sky eventually cleared around 1 AM, and I saw 7 'average to above-average' meteors in the sky.
I was starting to get pretty tired when I packed up around 2:30 AM.
I saw Vega a few times at the zenith, and that sustained my hopes.
Later, I observed Arcturus in the Western sky, and it was the only star that pierced the thin clouds for a time. It was hard to discern whether it was a star or the headlight of an airplane for a while, but eventually it's location and steadiness won me over.
There were still clouds to the north and the sky-glow was pretty bad. I could see the Milky Way through Cygnus, though.
We had a long conversation about observing techniques and everything else.
Others who were there may like to comment.
I saw one strange thing. In the tail of Cygnus, on the north side, I saw 3 evenly spaced strobe flashes, as from an airplane, but no more flashes. It was strange. I don't think it was my imagination, but I wonder what kind of satellite could have done it. Perhaps a weather balloon?
CBC Radio 1 interviewed Mcmaster astronomy professor Christin Wilson (who spoke to our club at our June meeting) and yours truly for a radio program on stars. The link leads you to the webpage and the one hour program can be heard by clicking on the entry titled "A Star is Born".
I haven't heard the program yet, but I do know that they credit me as president of the club (when in fact I am a past chair and current observing director), so I offer apologies to our current chair, Jim, and figure that considering the nature of the media, if that's as bad as it gets then we could have done worse. Enjoy!
We had a great night tonight for our public stargazing night at McQuesten Park in Hamilton. Well over a hundred people visited more than a dozen members with a wide variety of scopes. We had clear skies so lots of interesting things to see. Moon, Saturn, Globular Clusters, double stars and more. Met a lot of really nice people and had fun showing night sky objects and answering lots of good questions.
(click on image to see larger version)
We even saw a new, previously unrecognized (as far as we know) feature on the Moon which we have affectionately identified as the Lunar Diamond - Palus Somni - which in the lighting we had tonight, formed a perfect large diamond shape right next to Mare Crisium. While visible in scopes, it was more pronounced in a pair of 15x70 binos where it was first identified. Perhaps the 3D nature of binos makes it easier to spot.
Any way, the HAA would like to thank everyone who came out to help and those who participated. We're glad you joined us and had fun. We really enjoyed your company.
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